Friday, March 03, 2006

Flash Fiction Friday

This is a little exercise in scratch fiction. The rules & stuff are over at Purgatorian. I figured I'd give it a try...

The transom. I forgot the transom…

It was all going so well. The stains on the carpet were gone. Most of them, anyway - there was still a small one that I couldn't get out but I'd moved the bookcase over a few inches to cover it. The rest of the mess had been cleaned up and I had taken the trash out and thrown it away in a dumpster a couple of blocks away. There was nothing I could do about the broken lamp, but I had balanced the shade precariously and could always blame Rosie. She was known to be careless with the feather duster.

By the time they had returned everything looked completely normal, including me. Not a hair out of place, an angelic smile on my face welcoming them back.

But now, as I stood with my arms around my mother, hugging her and telling her how I'd missed her, my eyes sweeping the room just in case I had missed something, it hit me like a blow to the stomach.

I forgot the damn transom!

A huge spidery crack split the smooth surface. It wouldn't be long before one of them saw it. I couldn't very well blame that one on Rosie, could I? She was only 4ft tall, there's no way they would believe she had broken it. I had to keep my parents out of the room until I could figure out what to do. Who could I get to fix it at such short notice?
Alan would know.
Alan. Would he even want to talk to me after what had happened?
Never mind that now, I would deal with it later.
I had to get my parents out of the room.

"Here, let me help you get these bags upstairs," I said with a bright smile, leading my mother by the hand, carefully trying to keep eye contact with both my parents in an attempt to stop them from looking up.

I would have made it too, except my mother went and made some comment that made my father roll his eyes. That was when he saw it.
His eyes stopped mid-roll and his brow furrowed in puzzlement.

"What happened there?" he asked and my mother turned to follow his gaze.

Like a deer caught in headlights I froze, unable to come up with a reasonable explanation.

An image flashed through my mind: the flash of a blade as it caught a shaft of moonlight streaming in through the pane of glass above the front door. It struck me that it looked different in the light of day, with birds twittering sweetly outside. Two nights ago it had been the only source of light in the house. The memory
of the shadows playing on the wall ran like a film in my head. Alan's shadow, as he had held down the silly pizza-delivery man, and my shadow as I had plunged the knife deep into his chest, again and again, until he lay perfectly still, like a child at rest.
The shadows had all stopped moving then as Alan and I had looked at each other with a mixture of horror and exhileration. Alan's horror and my exhileration. My pulse quickened and my breathing became shallow.

"Caroline, are you alright?" My mother's voice broke through and I returned to the moment.

I plastered a smile on my face and lied.
"I'm fine. I was just trying to figure out where that crack came from."

Certainly not from someone flinging a heavy bunch of keys across the room in a blind panic, I thought and the movie in my head continued as if uninterrupted.

Our moment of bonding had quickly turned to something else. Alan had panicked. He had wanted to call the police. It had taken all my guile to convince him otherwise. Of course, he was still under the mistaken belief that the pizza-delivery guy had tried to attack me. I was not about to enlighten him. Eventually I had convinced him that it would be best if he left, and I promised to contact the authorities as soon as he was gone. There was no need for him to be involved, I explained. It would only damage his chances of getting his scholarship.
So he had left.
And I had cleaned up the mess by myself.
But I couldn't bring myself to make the call. The cops always found out the truth in the end, didn't they? I had read enough books to know that. I couldn't take the risk of being found out. I had only just started, only just discovered the secret to the ultimate high. The feeling of power over another human being, over life and death, was intoxicating. I wasn't ready to let that go.

"It looks as if something banged into it," my father was shaking his head and stroking his beard the way he always did when he was trying to solve a problem.
The twittering birds outside began to get on my already strung-out nerves.

And then I smiled for real. The birds!

"You know, Rosie mentioned that a pigeon flew into the house the other day - perhaps that's what caused it? Maybe she used a broom to try and shoo it out? You know how clumsy she is - she must have been knocking the broom around and broken the transom in the process."

My father's hand dropped to his side and my mother laughed.
"That's quite possible," she chuckled. "I've seen her run around the kitchen screaming because of a little field mouse. Oh dear, poor little woman. Not to worry dear, I'll call the handyman to come and repair it tomorrow."

I picked up her suitcase again and began heading upstairs, eager to distract them from discussing it further. I would have to be more careful next time. No more games at home. And next time I would have to figure out a way to do it on my own.

Also, I would have to get rid of the little memento that I had kept. The lock of hair in the little wooden box in my room was unremarkable, apart from its colour. I didn't know anybody with red hair and it was too obvious.
If someone discovered it...

I heard the sirens at the same time as the doorbell rang. A confusion of voices floated upstairs behind me - my father, who had answered the door, and another that I didn't recognise.
And... w
as that Alan?

"Caroline," my father called.
"Caroline? There's a detective at the door who wants to speak with you."

In a daze I moved to the top of the stairs and as I peered over the banister I saw the reflection of the flashing blue lights of half a dozen police cars outside.

Alan was standing next to a large man sporting a crew cut. Our eyes locked and I searched his for some clue, some confirmation of solidarity. I sensed trouble and I needed an ally. But all I got was accusation.
And in that instant I knew only one thing for certain. If I managed to get out of this, I had found my next victim.


sweet trini said...

kill that alan bastard!
walk good.

Display Name said...

Clearly you are aware of the fine line between creative genius and the criminally insane. This is intense, yet so subtle. Really wonderful.

Debby said...

They always make one mistake and Alan was that one - THIS was your first effort, you write like a seasone pro.

porchwise said...

A good short short except I was wondering how she got rid of the body.

Spookie the Warrior said...

Very good, very different to the dreamy and romantic stories I am used to reading from you. I like this one.

Bosbefok said...

Nice and quick paced, without too much overcomplication. Definately a keeper.

anne said...

Violence at last! Very surprising from you, m'dear...
Or... is it?

(Blogger is being a pain in the lower backside today, or is it just me?)

Terri said...

sweet trini - Easy now... this is fiction remember?!

just angela - Er, yes... ;-) Thank you!

debby - High praise indeed, coming from a complete stranger, thank you! I have written a couple of short stories (very much unpublished!), but so far I've gone with easy reading, pleasant, romantic stuff... so yes, this was my first Flash Fiction attempt and this is very different from the type of thing I would normally be inclined to write. So thank you for the compliment!

porchwise - I kind of wanted to leave a little mystery behind which is why I left that part out. My guess would be she chopped him up into itty-bitty pieces and fed him to the 'gators. Or maybe the cops will discover more than lamb chops in the freezer? You choose.

just me - It is a bit of a change from my usual stuff, isn't it? I figured it was time to challenge myself a bit & do something different. Glad u like it :-)

bosbefok - Thank you :-)

Terri said...

anne - You snuck that comment in while I was posting mine. Yes, Blogger is being a pain. And Yes, it is surprising from me... or is it...?

justacoolcat said...

Nice story, and yet another time a lock of hair is someone's downfall.

When will they learn?

beadinggalinMS said...

Terri you never cease to amaze me. :)

me said...

hee hee:)
i was da insperation 4 da ending!

me said...

very well done
i lyk it indeed!!!

Jeff said...

Nice job, Terri. :)

Terri said...

justacoolcat - Thanks. And if it's not a lock of hair it's some other shred of evidence. tsk tsk!

beads - :-)

me - Indeed you were, Cinderella! Yep, everyone, I must give credit where credit is due. I got halfway with this thing and lost my nerve cos I don't normally write stuff like this so my first attempt kind of wandered off in a different direction. "Me" here read it & said, "Well, the first half is good, but..." so I was prompted to rewrite the second half and this was the result.
So thanks, "Me"!

Jeff - Thank you :-)

jason evans said...

Bravo Terri!!

Dang good story. The sympathy for the killer is skillful, very skillful. The suspense with the parents was also right on.

angel said...

bucking frilliant terri! blew me away doll!

Terri said...

Jason - {{glows under praise}} Thank you.

Angel - U smaak it stukkend do you ;-)

Jerome said...

It cannot have effect in actual fact, that is exactly what I think.
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